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A year ago, I ran my first Hypo Half – and my second half marathon. I had one goal for that race – to beat my first half marathon time – and I came through with flying colours. Right after that race, I hit the pavement and started training for my first marathon in June.

A year later, I’ve run two marathons, raced another half, and enjoyed a beautiful half marathon that was treated like an autumn training run. The runs I’ve raced, I’ve run faster than my previous race. Even when things hit the skids in Sacramento for my second marathon, I still managed to beat my first marathon time six months earlier by nearly ten minutes. I’ve got three marathons planned for 2020, and my goal is to run each one faster than the last. I’m glad I’ve got that planned – because I realize now that if I hadn’t, Sacramento might just have made me think twice about running marathon number three.

I decided to join the Kool Kids (a group of runners who trained together for the Sacramento/Honolulu clinic) in running the second Hypo half race in Edmonton this morning. A year ago, I ran that race with one goal (see above) and something to prove – that I was a bit of a badass and could tackle all that winter had to throw at me. This go-round, the Kool Kids wanted a training run (a 23 km run was slated for our training plan, so a bit more speed and a bit more effort provided the equivalents). Ed, my regular guide runner and training partner, was off on a cruise, so my friend and fellow Kool Kid Mike agreed to guide today, coming on the heels of his best-run marathon just a week ago. I decided to follow Mike’s lead – to wear my Hypo half toque backwards – then turn the logo to the front when we crossed the finish line. It’s a silly thing, I suppose, but we’re runners… enough said.

We started out strong – the first 4 km were solid. I could maintain that pace forever, with the light dusting of compact snow, some icy patches, but nothing to worry about. But the roads and sidewalks became progressively unstable and uncertain the further we went. We had half a kilometer of good footing, then about half a kilometer of snow that felt like running in brown sugar (Mike’s words, not mine). As time went on, I realized that my original hope (to beat last year’s Hypo time of 2:28:22) wasn’t going to happen. My legs got so tired in trying to keep me balanced. I drew encouragement as I waved at other runners who cheered as we passed (Mike says he wants to guide me on another race – he gets more people smiling and cheering for us than he ever has running solo).

“It’s a training run,” I kept telling myself.

But training runs don’t have cheer sections or water stations or music at speakers at the finish line. Training runs don’t trick my brain into thinking we’re RACING so we should run faster. Training runs don’t make me feel like crap… and this one was doing a spectacular job of that. I had to salvage this slow run somehow.

Seize the day! Take the opportunity to try different fuel and hydration options. After what happened in Sacramento, this seemed like a wise choice. I could run a half-marathon – I knew that – but what might be helpful on a race course? They had Gatorade at the water stations, and there’s no better time to try something new when you’re not expecting a speed record and there’s likely going to be parallels to a time in your not-too-distant future that you are. Kilometer 14 saw me with a paper cup of Gatorade – and while I’m not sure it positively impacted me, it definitely didn’t affect me negatively. Score one for Gatorade! Mike and I chatted, waved at more runners, kept pace with another runner and introduced ourselves after the fourth time we swapped positions on the race course.

The finish line drew near, after another kilometer of navigating across a dozen or so unshoveled driveways. I just wanted it to be over and to get inside for the bacon. I flipped my toque to show the logo on the front and crossed the finish line in what is truly the slowest half-marathon I’ve ever run – in fact I think even some walkers came in before I did.

It’s been a few hours now. I’ve had my fill of bacon and fruit – and realized once again that I don’t want potatoes after running a race. I’ve dissected the race, and my thoughts, and I realize I’m carrying some stuff that isn’t mine to carry.

I don’t want people to think that I’m a slow runner because I’m blind; I truly think I represented blind people badly. I realize I’m carrying this because often times I’m the only obviously blind runner on a race course. But I have always hated the idea that just being out there is enough. It’s a strange dichotomy – I didn’t throw everything I had behind this race, and in a way I wish I had. But that would’ve been foolish, truly a recipe for injury.

I need to let all that crap go!

I’ve had some time to think, and while I know people will think that my getting out there was inspirational because BLIND – or my speed (or lack thereof) was attributed to nonfuctioning eyeballs – I know the whole truth.

I went out there to run with the Kool Kids – and I did.

I went out there to finish – and I did.

I went out there to try free and different fueling options – and I did.

I went out there to train – and I did.

None of my actual goals today had anything to do with pushing myself to my limits for Hypo. None of my goals today included proving anything to myself as a runner – I’ve already done that. My goal wasn’t to race Hypo… my goal is to train for Vancouver Marathon in May.

And you know what?

I did that today, crappy footing and all.

So maybe the takeaway from this run – a training run with a medal and a brunch – is to realize the goal that you’ve set may not be for today. It may be a stepping stone, a building block for something further down the line, maybe months or years in the future.

And while I’m all for doing your best… sometimes your best in that moment is knowing when to step back and realize that maybe, just maybe, for a few moments in time, just getting out there and meeting your own objectives – whatever they are – is enough.

And it is enough.


Me and Mike at Hypo